Statue of the Eighth Karmapa Mikyo Dorje

8th Karmapa Mikyo Dorje

8th Karmapa

In this blog entry on Karma Kagyu Buddhist iconography, we present a famous Buddha statue of the Eighth Karmapa Mikyo Dorje. The Eighth Karmapa (1507-1554) is of particular significance in Diamond Way Buddhism. An important Karma Kagyu Lineage master, through his spiritual genius and profound understanding of mind, he composed the particularly powerful meditation practice Guru Yoga in Four Sessions (Tib. tun shi lami naljor). Known simply as the 8th Karmapa Meditation, it is commonly practised by Diamond Way Buddhists who have completed the Four Foundational Practices (Tib. Ngondro) of Tibetan Buddhism.

The picture and text below are taken from the book “Karmapa, the Black Hat Lama of Tibet” by Nik Douglas and Meryl White. the book was published in 1976 and is now quite difficult and expensive to obtain an original copy.

Statue of 8th Karmapa Mikyo Dorje

“A unique marble image of the eighth Karmapa, Mikyo Dorje, made by himself as his own likeness in the period circa 1532 A.D. After making it a small piece of marble was left over and this he squeezed with his hand, leaving a very clear impression on the stone. It is to be seen in the upper right, wrapped in red silk, and to the upper left is a small image of the Dakini Vajravarahi, a protector of Mikyo Dorje which he always carried. The Lama is depicted wearing the Black Hat, the face and body is gilded and the whole is wrapped in precious brocade with seed-pearls affixed and kept within a large gold relic-box. It is said that whoever ever sees this icon must quickly become liberated and is a type of image believed to speak on particular occasions. It is preserved at Rumtek monastery.”

“…Once, while staying at Tsurphu monastery, Karmapa had a vision of the Sakya Pandita, who appeared to him surrounded by many Bodhisattvas, from whom he received important teachings. At this time he made a small marble statue of himself and with a piece of leftover marble he made an impression of his palm by squeezing it. When the statue was consecrated, in the presence of many Lamas, Karmapa addressed it, asking it if it was a good likeness of himself. The statue replied, “Yes, of course!” much to the amazement of all those present.”

The statue by the 8th Karmapa is among the relics hopefully (see here and here) preserved in Rumtek Monastery, the 16th Karmapa’s Seat in Sikkim, India.

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